Running a business is all about making a profit, so it makes sense that one of the best measures of a company's performance is its profit margins.
Strong profit margins almost always mean a company is well-run, stable, and making money.
A company with healthy profit margins indicates it is efficient at allocating capital and controlling costs, so it can deliver more revenue to the bottom line.
It also means the business has built-in safety. Therefore, a sales slump is less likely to cause an operating loss.
Can "Perceptual Computing" Help Intel Get Its Groove Back?
When you peruse the tech-dominated headlines these days, a lot of the talk is about how smartphones and tablets are taking over for notebooks and laptops - which had taken over for desktop PCs.
But with the confusing mix of keyboards, track pads, touch-screens, and even voice and gesture commands that are in use today, there are at least as many different ways to interact with all those computing devices as there are different devices themselves.
But Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is pioneering a new type of technology the chip-giant says will bring order to this interface confusion.
And it refers to this invention as "perceptual computing."
No doubt, this is Intel's latest attempt to regain its relevance in a world that is going mobile at an accelerating rate - a transition that has transformed the once-dominant firm into a veritable also-ran. And most of these earlier attempts amounted to almost nothing at all.
But I believe perceptual computing is different - and, in fact, could have two important results.
Microsoft, Intel and Cisco Follow Path Predicted in 'Leaders to Laggards' Series
Money Morning subscribers who read our Leaders to Laggards series on the flagging fortunes of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) weren't surprised by subsequent developments, since we told you exactly what to expect.
The Leaders to Laggards articles described how each company's failure to anticipate changes in their markets undermined their ability to grow revenue. Consequently, their stocks - which many investors rode to massive profits in the 1990s - have languished for the past decade.
Those tribulations have continued since the publication of our series. Microsoft and Cisco have struggled mightily, and as predicted, only Intel has managed to make headway.
Why Intel Is Still a 'Buy'Intel surprised Wall Street with better-than-expected earnings last week - its standout divisions pointing the way to the future growth that for years had eluded the company.
Profits were up 2%, while revenue jumped 21% year-over-year. And gross margins edged up to 64% from 61% in the previous quarter.
Revenue from data centers, which provide the infrastructure for the cloud-computing trend that is now beginning to dominate mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, was up 15.2% and accounted for nearly 20% of total sales.
Intel sees data centers as a major source of growth. The company expects sales to rise to $10 billion this year and to $20 billion within five years.
An even bigger surprise was the strength in the chipmaker's PC business, which accounted for 64% of Intel's revenue. Sales of the PC division rose 11% despite sluggish growth of about 2.5% in the overall PC market.
"We knew that there would be strength in the servers, but to see double-digit growth in their PC unit is great," Michael Shinnick, a money managerat Wasatch Advisors Inc.,told Bloomberg News.
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What's Wrong with Intel Corp.?
Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald is back on FoxBusiness' "Bulls & Bears" program for a look at technology companies' earnings reports. While some are thriving, others like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) are stuck in a stock price standstill. Watch Fitz-Gerald and his "B&B" counterparts debate whether or not Intel is a "Buy." Loading [...]
Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and AMD (Nasdaq: AMD) Betting Big on Combination Chips
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off tomorrow (Wednesday) night with a keynote address from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Chief Executive Officer Steve Balmer. But the big attraction at the Las Vegas conference will be the so-called "combination chips" expected to be unveiled by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (Nasdaq: AMD).
The highly-anticipated chips could deliver one of the biggest advances in years for the
technology that powers laptop and desktop computers, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
The new chips are designed to incorporate the microprocessors that calculate formulas and run the software on most personal computers with the more obscure graphics processing units (GPU) - the devices responsible for rendering images in video games and movies and converting audio files for listening.